Writing is thinking

Writing encapsulates one’s thoughts in words. Without which, the thoughts may elapse and never to be retrieved. I am a strong advocate of writing for pleasure as I am indebted to this habit for elevating my confidence in my twenties. Writing gave me the conviction to make bold and swift decisions in my life.

I would like to share with you the 3-steps process that you will benefit from developing the habit of writing. 

Step 1. Collect Data

Writing facilitates the collection of data over time. Some people may choose to record their thoughts in a diary while others may prefer to regularly post updates on their social media accounts like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, and YouTube.  

Regardless of the medium, the habit of recording our thoughts and emotions gives us the opportunity to access them down the road when memories of the events had faded or the stroke of insight had dissipated. 

With these data points at our disposal, we can organize and review them to help us make better decisions in our lives. 

Step 2. Create Structures

Writing gives us the opportunity to structure our thoughts. When you find yourself having to make a difficult decision in a new situation, writing all your thoughts out can help you gain clarity to make a firm and decisive choice.  

Some complex decisions that you may find yourself having to confront in your adulthood include which college major to enroll in (see Case Scenario 1 below), who to marry, whether to stay married or divorce, and whether you should take up a new job that will make you move 7000 miles away from your parents.

Writing helps one process the avalanche of thoughts. It enables the brain to organise thoughts so that more informed decisions can be made. An informed decision can be defined as one made after full consideration of the potential risks (pros) and rewards (cons) in a timely manner.

Case Scenario 1: Should I major in Accountancy at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) or listen to my parents and enroll in Pharmacy at the National University of Singapore (NUS)?

Pros of choosing Accountancy Cons of choosing Accountancy
The Accountancy degree offered by NTU is a 3-year program while the Pharmacy degree is a 4-year program. I can graduate a year earlier and start earning a salary. There is significantly more Accountancy than Pharmacy graduates in Singapore. This may dilute the value of an accountancy degree and push down the wages of accountants in Singapore. 
I am interested in starting a business and accountancy is the language of all businesses. Therefore, this skill set will help advance me toward achieving my goals.
I have made this choice and I would live with no regrets. I would also not have the option to blame anyone else when I meet challenges along the way.

Without a structured way to ponder our thoughts, it may lead to a greater tendency to procrastinate due to indecisiveness, decision fatigue, and deep regrets or remorse after making the decision. 

At times, you may find that a Pros and Cons analysis alone is limited. Rest assured that there are numerous frameworks that can help you structure your thoughts based on your circumstances. These are some of my favorite frameworks that had helped to elevate the quality of my decisions. 

At an Individual Level At an Organisational Level
TO LO PO SO GO Framework by Edward De Bono (Assuming you have all the time in the World)  

Nagivating Levels by Ray Dalio

 

Eisenhower Box (Urgent Vs Important Framework)  PESTLE analysis
SWOT Analysis (Personal Evaluation of Strengths and Weaknesses ) Business Canvas Model
Passion Planner (How to set goals to achieve your dreams)
80/20 principles

I would highly recommend Edward De Bono’s books to learn more about the different frameworks and structures to enhance decision-making.

Step 3. Improve Decisions

Over time, you will find that mastering the art of capturing and structuring your thoughts would bring about some of these benefits:

  • You will experience increased self-awareness. Through written self-reflection, you can identify your mistakes and incongruent behaviors. Your resolve to eliminate these undesirable habits and traits would also strengthen if you write them down. 
  • You will be able to draw links between events to identify the root cause of a problem. Only then can an appropriate and effective solution be implemented.
  • You will find yourself generating new ideas through writing. 
  • You will also eliminate negative thought patterns in your life that are introduced by external sources through regularly written reflections. 
  • Your conviction to achieve your goals in life will also increase if you write your goals down every day. 

Conclusion

Writing allows us to ponder on problems and steers us to organise our thoughts before arriving at a conclusion or decision.  Writing illuminates the blindspots in our thinking since our mind can only focus on one thought at a time but decision-making often requires multi-faceted factors and considerations before it could be made with the least magnitude of regret. 

Writing is the number 2 habit that I would encourage everyone to cultivate, after reading.

 

References

Books

  1. Teach Yourself To Think, by Edward de Bono
  2. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less, by Richard Koch
  3. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

Website Articles

1. http://paulgraham.com/words.html

YouTube Videos

1. The Power of Writing, by Jordan Peterson : https://youtu.be/bfDOoADCfkg

2. How Generalists Win In The Information Age, by Till Musshoff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29oyOLh6PNE

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